Tennis: Osaka beats Svitolina to reach Australian Open semifinals

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MELBOURNE. KAZINFORM U.S. Open winner Naomi Osaka kept her hopes of winning back-to-back women's singles Grand Slam titles alive Wednesday when she beat reigning tour finals champion Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-1 in the Australian Open quarterfinals.

The win, her third against Ukraine's Svitolina in six tries, made her the first Japanese woman to advance to the Australian Open semifinals since Kimiko Date did so in 1994, Kyodo News reports.

"For me, today, I just had one goal and it was to try as hard as I can and not get angry," said Osaka, who threw her racket in frustration during her third-round win over Taiwan's Hsieh Su-wei.

"I didn't do that well in the last two rounds, so that was my only goal, and I think I did it well. So, I'm really happy with how I played today."

The Japanese fourth seed and current world No. 4, who has now won 58 straight matches in which she has taken the first set, has a chance to leave Melbourne with the world No. 1 ranking, according to the WTA.

In addition to reaching the semifinals, Osaka needs to equal or better Petra Kvitova's performance in the tournament to stay in contention for the No. 1 spot. Kvitova has already won through to the semifinals where she will meet unseeded American Danielle Collins.

On Wednesday at Rod Laver Arena, Osaka struggled with 19 unforced errors in the first set. However, she managed to break her opponent's serve in the 10th game to take a one-set lead when Svitolina could not counter a cross-court backhand, the Ukrainian dumping her reply into the net. The break was one of three for the 21-year-old Japanese in the set.

After Osaka took a 3-0 lead in the second set, sixth-seeded Svitolina requested a medical timeout so she could get treatment on her right shoulder.

Despite the three-minute halt in play, Osaka maintained her momentum, breaking her opponent twice more before closing the match out in one hour, 12 minutes with her eighth ace and a forehand winner on match point.

"I tried to be consistent, or as consistent as I can. She's a really good player and it's unfortunate that she got injured. But playing against her even when she was injured was still really tough," Osaka said.

Osaka said she looks forward to Thursday's semifinals, where she will meet either Serena Williams or Karolina Pliskova. A clash against Williams would mean a rematch of the most recent U.S. Open final, where Osaka beat her childhood idol in straight sets.

"I've played them both and they're both very great players. I know that it's going to be tough no matter who I play," she said.

Later, in Wednesday's men's singles quarterfinals, Japanese eighth seed Kei Nishikori will play world No. 1 and six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic on the same court.

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